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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Please print and use this petioin as a community

Ethiopian government blows up two cafés full of Oromo refugees and burns 250 Oromo refugees’ residences in Somalia: an urgent call for action from the international community

On February 5, 2008, at about 8:00 pm, Ethiopian government soldiers blew up two cafés in Puntaland’s Bosasso city of Somalia and killed 65 Oromo refugees and injured 100 people. The Oromo refugees were watching videos in Oromo language at the time. Both cafés, owned and operated by Oromos, were the regular meeting and socialising palaces for Oromo refugees. The Ethiopian government mercenary group first threw two grenades into the cafés and opened fire on and killed those who had survived the deadly bomb blasts. The killers then transported the bodies of the dead away from the site of the blast in two convoys to conceal the tragedy. In addition to the scores killed, residences of 250 Oromo refugees were set on fire with all their property. Some survivors of the attack were denied hospitalisation and were beaten and chased away.

The TPLF is a minority ethnic political group that controls the current Ethiopian government. In a bid to maintain its autocratic control of governance of Ethiopia, the TPLF continues to suppress political freedom of its citizens, particularly of the Oromos.

Oromos who escape brutal political persecution by the government flee to the neighbouring countries such as Somalia and Kenya to seek refuge. In the past, such refugees had been accorded protection by the local UNHCR personnel and the host country. New circumstances have presently changed this dramatically for Oromo refugees particularly in Somalia: for example, the Ethiopian government has been bolstered militarily by Western aid causing it to have little regard for international instruments such as the UN Conventions on Human Rights – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the Convention Against Torture, and among others; the Convention Against Genocide – both within and outside its borders. The government of Ethiopia has resultantly added a disturbing dimension to its practice of ‘Zero Tolerance’ of political dissidence; it is engaged in a systematic plan to hunt and kill Oromo political refugees in their country of refuge. In November 2007, for example, security forces loyal to the TPLF-led government of Ethiopia killed 10 Oromo refugees and carried out a failed kidnap attempt on 4 journalists in Nairobi, Kenya. The 10 Oromo refugees that were killed were university students that fled persecution from their native country Ethiopia to Kenya. The February 5 murder of the defenceless Oromo refugees in Somalia symbolises a growing act of terrorism planned, orchestrated and executed by the Ethiopian government against the Oromo people.

The international community should not turn a blind eye to this barbaric act. Behind all organised terrorist actions is a trail of finances, some diverted, and others deliberate. In the case of the terrorist actions perpetrated by the Ethiopian government against the defenceless Oromo refugees in Somalia, the trail of money points to the well-meaning economic aid and military assistance given to the country by the Western nations. As the primary force for the promotion of democracy and human rights in developing countries, and as nations whose well-meaning economic assistance has been diverted by the Ethiopian government for terrorist activities against defenceless refugees, the responsibility by the Western nations to intervene in the case of the mass murder committed by the Ethiopian government against defenceless Oromo refugees is double fold.

“By its statute, the Office of the High Commissioner is entrusted, interalia, with the task of promoting international instruments for the protection of refugees, and supervising their application. Under the Convention and Protocol, contracting States undertake to cooperate with the Office of UNHCR in the exercise of its functions and, in particular, to facilitate its specific duty of supervising the application of the provisions of these instruments.”

Quite evidently, in the case of Oromo refugees in Somalia, the Office of the UNHCR has failed to “… exercise its functions and, in particular, to facilitate its specific duty of supervising the application of the provisions” of the Refugee Convention.

Clause IV.D of the Convention, further states that:

“THE CONFERENCE, CONSIDERING that many persons still leave their country of origin for reasons of persecution and are entitled to special protection on account of their position, RECOMMENDS that Governments continue to receive refugees in their territories and that they act in concert in a true spirit of international cooperation in order that these refugees may find asylum and the possibility of resettlement.”

The Government of Somalia failed to provide the Oromo refugees “… a true spirit of international cooperation” that the refugees were entitled to from the host country. Instead, some of its security personnel the government of Somalia cooperated with the Ethiopian government mercenaries in helping with the logistics that the mercenaries needed to murder the defenseless refugees.

We, the undersigned, call upon the following international organizations to:

take urgent action to investigate and to bring to account the perpetrators of the mass murder of Oromo refugees on February 5, 2008, in Puntaland’s Bosasso city of Somalia

provide urgent medical care to the 100 Oromo refugees that were injured by the bomb blasts of the cafés carried out by the Ethiopian government, and to;

provide effective protection, and where appropriate, resettlement, to the remaining Oromo refugees in Somalia.

International organizations we are sending this petition to:

The good office of the Secretary General of The United Nations, H. E. Ban Ki-moon Secretary-General, The United Nations New York. NY 10017

2. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Case Posatale 2500
CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt

3. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
19 Avenue de la Paix
CH 1202 Geneva
E-Mail: mail@icrc.delnyc.org
Head of delegation: Mr. Dominique BUFF

E-Mail: washington.was@icrc.org
Head of delegation: Mr. Geoffrey LOANE

· E-Mail: somalia.sok@icrc.org
Head of delegation: Mr. Pascal HUNDT
Mob: (++254) 722 51 81 42

Ethiopian government blows up two cafés full of Oromo refugees in Somalia: an urgent call for action from the international community

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Ethiopian government blows up two cafés full of Oromo refugees in Somalia: an urgent call for action from the international community

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